Removing Croys from the Dee Should Improve Pools for Anglers
Improvements in the River Dee as part of a £3.5 million UK project to improve habitat for freshwater pearl mussels and salmon got underway on the 17th of August. 24 large fishing platforms or “croys” are being broken up to restore habitat for the rare freshwater pearl mussel and for salmon. Much has be written about the habitat for salmon and freshwater mussels. Anglers, of course have a very specific interest in these works. Will it improve the fishing on the beats concerned? Will their removal make things worse?
The impact of the in river works may take a few seasons to become noticeable. Whenever we are dealing with a wild animal it would be foolhardy to predict its future movements; similarly we will have to wait and see what Mother Nature throws our way. With those caveats the work has been developed in agreement with the affected beats and issues such as bank erosion have been built into the work programme.
I thought it would be useful go to take a run out and find out first-hand what the ghillies had to say about it all.
Colin Simpson, Lower Blackhall & Kinneskie, welcomes the works with, in true ghillie style, cautious optimism. While he can’t predict the long term impact of the changes, Colin is delighted to see the removal of the croys from his beat, where, he believes, they have had an adverse effect on the fishing since they were first introduced back in the 1990s.
“The pools at Lower Blackhall have been particularly affected by the croys in high water, where a strong, powerful stream rushes through the middle of the river, which spoils our fishing above a certain height. I think the removal of the croys will help the beat by creating more holding water. The most obvious improvement will be a more even flow, from bank to bank, while the replacement of the boulders, removed when the croys were built, back into the river will produce more in stream diversity and create cover where fish might sit.”
Ballogie Estate’s Head Ghillie, Sean Stanton is also keen to see the croys removed from his pools at Commonty. The croys may have been put in with the intention of improving fishing, however Sean believes they have had the opposite effect.
‘The croys have no fishing purpose”, says Sean. “They were put in wrongly to begin with and have only served to push the stream out from our bank, making the pool more difficult to fish as the water drops and the fish push out. Many of our anglers avoid this part of Commonty. The wading is difficult and fishing from the croys themselves is difficult and unsuitable for many of our rods. While it will take a few seasons to really see an impact, I feel the removal of the croys will benefit our anglers, by making the pools more accessible and by creating a more even flow. I am particularly keen to see how the pools fish in high water and, while these things are a bit of a gamble, I am optimistic that our anglers will be the main beneficiaries.”
The beats would never had had the opportunity to remove these croys without the Pearls in Peril Project (PiP). While the project is ostensibly about the protection of fresh water pearl mussels it has attracted substantial investment into the catchment and is enhancing the quality of the pools on the Dee.